This year the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 3rd, 2011. There are 12 animal zodiac signs that are cycled and 2011 marks the Year of the Rabbit. The rest of the animals are the Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, and Tiger. For those born this year, they will be 12 when the Year of the Rabbit comes round again in 2023. This is a fun way to remember a person’s birth year and the Chinese often inquire which animal year you were born in and then figure out the actual year in the Gregorian calendar.
There will be lots of decorations with rabbits and sales of anything relating to the rabbit will be in high demand this year. Many may even adopt rabbits as pets. According to The China Daily sales of pet rabbits are growing like rabbits and pet shops can hardly keep up with the demand.
The Chinese New Year celebration lasts for 15 days. Different dialect groups hold certain days more significant than others. The 7th, 9th, and 15th days are of particular significance. The 7th day known as “Everyone’s Birthday”, is a day when everyone grows a year older. A raw fish salad known as “Yee Sang” (Yusheng) is tossed and eaten. This is primarily done among the overseas Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. To see how this is done, check out my post Yee Sang and the New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner.
The 9th day is of particular significance to the Hokkien (Fujianese) Chinese as they celebrate the protection of the Jade Emperor from massacre with offerings of sugarcane. Day 15 is known as “Chap Goh Mei” in the Hokkien (Fujian) dialect and is the last day of the celebration. In Penang and Singapore, Hokkiens conclude this day with Chingay, a boisterous parade of masqueraded dancers, stilt walkers, dragon dancers, and assorted acrobats. Source : About.com.
Each year I try to make some special Chinese New Year cookies and dishes I grew up with for my boys. These Chinese Peanut Cookies are one of my favorites and are very easy to make. I have substituted the all-purpose flour with rice flour to make it gluten free. Unmelted granulated sugar can sometimes cause the cookies to be a little grainy. I used powdered sugar to prevent this occurrence. Traditionally, pork lard is used to give the cookies a fluffy texture but I used canola oil instead. Fresh Chinese Peanut Cookies are a real treat. They are a combination of sweet and salty and the rice flour gives them an almost melt-in-the-mouth texture.
- 1½ cups (225 gm) raw peanuts, shelled
- 1 cup (120 gm) rice flour
- ½ cup (60 gm) powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup (120 ml) canola oil
- White egg wash
- Place peanuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Roast at 350°F (180°C) for about 12 to 15 minutes until just lightly brown. Remove and allow peanuts to cool.
- Grind peanuts in a food processor to as fine as possible. Pour into a large bowl.
- Mix in rice flour, powdered sugar, and salt.
- Pour in oil and mix well. Peanut and flour mixture should come together.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Flatten slightly before placing onto parchment lined baking pan. Brush top of cookie with egg wash. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for approximately 18 minutes. Remove and cool in pan for 10 minutes.
- Transfer onto wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight jar.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!